Israeli Rights Group Says Police Improperly Arrested Palestinian Boys As Young As 12
(AP) JERUSALEM (AP) – Israeli police are improperly arresting Palestinian boys in nighttime raids in Jerusalem that involve assault rifle wielding security forces handcuffing minors and interrogating them without lawyers or parents, an Israeli rights group charged Tuesday.
Most of the youths were accused of hurling rocks at Jewish settlers and damaging their property in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, where tensions are high between settlers and Palestinian residents. Some of them have since been charged. Police say the arrests were legal, and a matter of law and order.
“They are using military-style night raids to extract children as young as 12,” said Sarit Michaeli of rights group B’tselem, which says the raids are an inappropriate method to detain children. They also argue the raids defy Israeli law, which demands children be accompanied by guardians while being arrested.
In affidavits to B’tselem, six boys aged between 12 and 14 years old described arrest raids involving around a dozen heavily armed military police surrounding their homes, handcuffing them and leading them to cells where they were slapped, kicked and told by interrogators to confess if they wanted to go home.
Some 40 boys have been taken into custody over the past year, and around half were 14 or younger, B’tselem said.
One of the boys, Ahmad Saim, 12, was arrested at around 3 a.m. on Jan. 10.
“I was made to kneel and face the wall and every time I moved a man … slapped me across the neck,” said Saim in an affidavit. Saim said an interrogator pushed him into the wall, causing a nose bleed.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said the police acted within the law. “We will continue to operate despite the age of the suspects, once we have information on crimes,” Rosenfeld said.
In the West Bank, where Israeli military law applies, a 13-year-old boy was held for nine days in detention with adults because his impoverished father could not afford to pay $500 bail, the Haaretz daily reported.